A pair of NL Central hurlers headlined today’s expert daily baseball plays.
Top Pick: Mike Fiers, Milwaukee Brewers, $15,700
2014: 28.0% K, 5.5% BB, 32.8% GB, 2.71 FIP
Marlins vs RHP: 23.8% K, 95 wRC+
Fiers doesn’t have the type of monster stuff you’d expect from a guy with his gaudy K%, but he keeps piling them up. Regression will eventually set in to a certain extent, but today he should fight off the regression facing the Marlins. The fish have the highest K% versus RHP of any club this year. He rarely walks batters, and that helps mitigate any HR issues that will eventually arise from his low GB%.
Value Pick: Francisco Liriano, Pittsburgh Pirates, $14,950
2014: 25.3% K, 11.0% BB, 54.9% GB, 3.69 FIP
Phillies vs LHP: 21.6% K, 93 wRC+
Liriano is always a risky play given his erratic control, but he’s been stellar in the second half with a 9.3% BB rate. He is able to work around the walks with a huge K% (that has spiked to 27.5% in the second half) and a big GB%. The Phillies aren’t averse to striking out, and Liriano’s high GB rate will help him navigate the HR park factor at Citizens Bank Park.
Top Pick: Russell Martin, Pittsburgh Pirates, $7,850
2014 vs RHP: 318 PA, 143 wRC+
Since 2012 vs RHP: 1,050 PA, 109 wRC+, .154 ISO, .328 wOBA
Liriano’s battery mate looks like the best of a bad lot at catcher tonight. He’s been an above average hitter since 2012 versus his same handed counterparts, and he’s been a stud against them this year. The pitcher he’s facing tonight, is a guy he caught last year in Pittsburgh, A.J. Burnett. Burnett has seen his skills erode against RHB a bit this year as he’s allowing a .315 wOBA. Finally, Martin will be hitting with RHB park factors of 102 for runs, and more importantly, 136 for HR.
Value Pick: Travis d’Arnaud, New York Mets, $6,900
2014 vs RHP: 289 PA, 102 wRC+
Since 2013 vs RHP: 373 PA, 97 wRC+, .148 ISO, .306 wOBA
Tanner Roark has been oh so tough on RHB, and I’m not a fan of that element of d’Arnaud’s matchup. However, the cheap catchers are all a pathetic group, and at least d’Arnaud has some pop and hits fifth for the Mets. This one of my daily expert baseball plays doesn’t get a ringing endorsement, but you have to slot someone at catcher.
Top Pick: David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox, $10,450
2014 vs RHP: 386 PA, 123 wRC+
Since 2012 vs RHP: 1,015 PA, 159 wRC+, .279 ISO, .408 wOBA
Liam Hendriks has replaced the injured Danny Duffy in the Royals rotation, and he’s a bad arm to attack. He has a 4.15 FIP this season in five games pitched in the majors, and he’s allowed a .323 wOBA to LHB. Because he has such limited experience in the majors, it is worth looking at his work since 2011 as opposed to just going back to 2012. The 433 LHB he has faced own a .355 wOBA against him. Ortiz is still very good against RHP, and facing a bad one should end with positive results for the Red Sox number three hitter.
Value Pick: Lucas Duda, New York Mets, $8,350
2014 vs RHP: 422 PA, 157 wRC+
Since 2012 vs RHP: 1,007 PA, 137 wRC+, .228 ISO, .365 wOBA
Duda received a day off yesterday with a LHP on the hill, but expect to see him penciled back into his cleanup spot in the Mets order tonight. Unlike d’Arnaud, Duda will be taking his hacks as a LHB against Roark. The second year big league pitcher is good against LHB, but he’s at least a bit more forgiving. With a short slate, gamers can’t be quite as picky with their hitters and grabbing a cleanup hitter with HR power, even against a good pitcher, has appeal at under $8,500.
Top Pick: Neil Walker, Pittsburgh Pirates, $8,950
2014 vs RHP: 394 PA, 133 wRC+
Since 2012 vs RHP: 1,243 PA, 129 wRC+, .195 ISO, .356 wOBA
Walker is one of my favorite expert daily baseball plays tonight. He’s a top notch hitter for his position, and he has a number of factors working in his favor. The first is that he hits cleanup for the Bucs. Secondly, Burnett is allowing a .341 wOBA to LHB this year. Last, but not least, the LHB park factor for HR is 124.
Value Pick: Scooter Gennett, Milwaukee Brewers, $7,800
2014 vs RHP: 388 PA, 130 wRC+
Since 2013 vs RHP: 532 PA, 141 wRC+, .179 ISO, .380 wOBA
Gennett, no longer shortstop eligible and a little pricier, is still a good play at the keystone position. He’s dropped to the two hole for the Brewers, and he’s facing Nathan Eovaldi. The flame throwing RHP has struggles with LHB allowing a .337 wOBA to them this year.
Top Pick: Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers, $9,850
2014 vs RHP: 403 PA, 131 wRC+
Since 2012 vs RHP: 1,404 PA, 140 wRC+, .207 ISO, .385 wOBA
Beltre has aged like a fine wine, and he’s well on his way to making a Hall of Fame case. That case will include his late career work, including the punishment he dolled out on RHB. Since 2012 he ranks second among qualified third basemen in wRC+ versus RHP and third in ISO. Reliever Cory Rasmus will make his third start for the Angels, and because he never had a chance to be stretched out, his time in the game will be limited and questions about how he’ll handle in a non-relief role remain. He struggled against the Twins in his last start, and if he struggles again and the Angels have to go to mop up men out of the pen, it could yield a big point total for Beltre.
Value Pick: Aramis Ramirez, Milwaukee Brewers, $7,900
2014 vs RHP: 370 PA, 98 wRC+
Since 2012 vs RHP: 1,119 PA, 118 wRC+, .162 ISO, .349 wOBA
Eovaldi isn’t good against LHB, but he is tough on RHB. The pitching matchup is far from perfect for Ramirez, but he’s been a roughly average hitter against RHP this year, and he’s been much better than that since 2012. Ramirez hits cleanup, and with RHB park factors of 106 for runs and 122 for HR at Miller Park. A sub-$8,000 price tag is more than a steep enough discount for facing a pitcher that’s tough on RHB when factoring in the other variables and the dearth of alternatives.
Top Pick: Erick Aybar, Los Angeles Angels,
2014 vs RHP: 429 PA, 109 wRC+
Since 2012 vs RHP: 1,248 PA, 97 wRC+, .103 ISO, .305 wOBA
There might not be a position where the options are uglier than shortstop, but Aybar stands head and shoulders above his peers. The switch-hitting shortstop is facing arguably the worst pitcher starting tonight. Nick Martinez owns a 5.24 FIP this year, and LHB have a .390 wOBA against.
Value Pick: Derek Jeter, New York Yankees, $6,300
2014 vs RHP: 396 PA, 76 wRC+
Since 2012 vs RHP: 955 PA, 85 wRC+, .065 ISO, .298 wOBA
The bargain bin for shorstops is gross. Jeter gets the nod over the other options because he’s cheaper than many of them, and because the Yankees continue to inexplicably hit him second in the order. If you’re going to pass on Aybar, hold your nose and take the plunge with Jeter.
Top Pick: Kole Calhoun, Los Angeles Angels, $10,000
2014 vs RHP: 379 PA, 135 wRC+
Since 2012 vs RHP: 567 PA, 127 wRC+, .185 ISO, .348 wOBA
Kalhoun goes for the three-peat of delivering on his inclusion as one of my expert daily baseball plays. He’s hit a HR in three straight games from the leadoff spot, and projecting a HR in a fourth straight is lofty. With a LHB park factor for HR at Globe Life Park of 106 it’s possible. He doesn’t have to exit the yard to have value either, the ballpark factor for runs for LHB is 111, Martinez is terrible against LHB, and the Angels should post a big run total with Calhoun spearheading the offensive onslaught.
Middle of the Pack: Marlon Byrd, Philadelphia Phillies,
2014 vs LHP: 146 PA, 119 wRC+
Since 2012 vs LHP: 375 PA, 140 wRC+, .215 ISO, .372 wOBA
It’s almost impossible to completely fade hitters against your pitchers on a short slate, and if you’re going to take one into battle with Liriano, Byrd is the clear cut choice. He’s pulverized LHP since 2012 posting the 18th highest ISO among outfielders with a minimum of 350 PA against LHP. As a RHB, Byrd will hit with a park factor of 136 for HR.
Value Pick: Matt Joyce, Tampa Bay Rays, $6,650
2014 vs RHP: 425 PA, 123 wRC+
Since 2012 vs RHP: 1,206 PA, 124 wRC+, .175 ISO, .345 wOBA
Joyce, a platoon outfielder, spent much of the season hitting third but has hit sixth for the Rays in his last three starts. It’s not an ideal move, but even if he isn’t re-inserted in the third spot in the order, he’s a good play in the outfield in DraftDay games. Joyce’s batted ball profile, which includes a 42.0% FB rate against RHP since 2012, is perfect for Yankee Stadium. The park factor for HR for LHB at Yankee Stadium is 122.
Wild Card: Gerardo Parra, Milwaukee Brewers, $7,150
2014 vs RHP: 417 PA, 94 wRC+
Since 2012 vs RHP: 1,215 PA, 106 wRC+, .146 ISO, .333 wOBA
Parra is a true wild card, as it’s possible he could open the game on the pine (in which case he obviously doesn’t warrant ownership in DraftDay games). However, it’s likely he’ll not only start, but hit in a favorable lineup spot with a RHP on the hill who struggles with LHB and is tough on RHB. Khris Davis should get the night off, and Parra will hit fifth or second as he has in many of his starts of late for the Brewers. His lineup spot, coupled with Eovaldi’s .337 wOBA allowed to LHB is plenty to justify spending a bit over $7,000 to fill one of three outfield spots with Parra.